The Journal of chemical physics

Distinguishing gramicidin D conformers through two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy of vibrational excitons.

PMID 26049444


Gramicidin D is a short peptide which dimerizes to form helical pores, adopting one of two conformations in the process. These conformations differ primarily in number of residues per turn and the hydrogen-bond registry between rungs of the helix. Using amide I 2D infrared (IR) and FTIR, we have demonstrated that it is possible to distinguish between the different conformers of gramicidin D in solution. We show that the spectra observed for this helical peptide bear no resemblance to the spectra of α- or 310-helices and that while the FTIR spectra appear similar to spectra of β-sheets, 2D IR reveals that the observed resonances arise from vibrational modes unlike those observed in β-sheets. We also present an idealized model which reproduces the experimental data with high fidelity. This model is able to explain the polarization-dependence of the experimental 2D IR data. Using this model, we show the coupling between the rungs of the helix dominates the spectra, and as a consequence of this, the number of residues per turn can greatly influence the amide I spectra of gramicidin D.